A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 2: Value Theory


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In this episode (# 2), we discuss Eisler’s early years as a member of the Jewish bourgeoisie in turn-of-the-century Vienna with historian Steven Beller. We also hear from the closest living relative of Robert Eisler, his grand-nephew Richard Regen. Philosopher Tom Hurka provides some background for understanding the arguments Eisler is making in Studies in Value Theory, especially his critiques of hedonism and aesthetic philosophy. Finally, we look at the events surrounding Eisler’s dramatic arrest and trial for attempted art theft in Udine in 1907 and discuss its short- and long-term consequences.

Voice of Robert Eisler: Caleb Crawford

Additional voices: Brian Evans

Editing and engineering: March Washelesky

Music: “Shibbolet Baseda,” recorded by Elyakum Shapirra and his Israeli Orchestra.

Guests: Steven Beller (independent scholar), Tom Hurka (Chancellor Henry N. R. Jackman Distinguished Professor of Philosophical Studies at the University of Toronto), Richard Regen (grand-nephew of Robert and Lili Eisler).

Funding provided by the Ohio University Humanities Research Fund and the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College Internship Program.

Special thanks to the Warburg Institute, the Griffith Institute at the University of Oxford, and to the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College.

Bibliography and further reading:

-Beller, Steven, ed. Rethinking Vienna 1900. New York: Berghahn Books, 2012.

-Beller, Steven. Vienna and the Jews, 1867–1938: A Cultural History. New York: Cambridge University Press. 1989.

-Eisler, Robert. “The Empiric Basis of Moral Obligation.” Ethics, Vol. 59, No. 2, Part 1 (Jan., 1949), pp. 77-94.

-Eisler, Robert. “Der Wille zum Schmerz, Ein psychologisches Paradox.Jahresbericht der Philosophischen Gesellschaft an der Universitat zu Wien (1904), pp. 63-79.

-Eisler, Robert. Studien zur Werttheorie. Leipzig: Verlag von Duncker & Humblot, 1902.

-Fabian, Reinhard and Peter M. Simons. “The Second Austrian School of Value Theory.” In Austrian Economics: Historical and Philosophical Background, ed. by Wolfgang Grassl and Barry Smith, pp. 29-78. Washington Square, NY: New York University Press, 1986.

-Frondzi, Risieri. What Is Value? An Introduction to Axiology. Second edition. La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing Company, 1971.

-Grassl, Wolfgang. “Toward a Unified Theory of Value: From Austrian Economics to Austrian Philosophy.” Paper presented at 19th-20th Century Austrian Thought and its Legacy, November 1-3, 2012, University of Texas at Arlington.

Associate Professor Brian Collins is the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy at Ohio University. He can be reached at collinb1@ohio.edu.

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